Monthly Archives: March 2013

let’s get peepin’

Happy Friday before Easter everyone! I don’t know if it’s because it’s Friday, or that there’s supposed to be beautiful weather in D.C. tomorrow, or that I’ve already eaten a pound of jellybeans this morning, but I’m in unusually happy spirits. So much so that I’ve been ending every email or correspondence I’ve sent today with an exclamation point and a smiley face! 🙂

Anyways – in honor of Easter weekend, I thought I’d share some fun holiday-drunk-easter-bunnythemed goodies with you to check out during your lunch breaks.

ABC News put together an ingenious list of wine pairings to go with your favorite Easter candies. From Peeps to Cadbury eggs to chocolate bunnies – there’s a wine to go with all of them. Goes to show that Easter candy isn’t just for kids anymore.

Huffington Post also shared some delicious recipes for how to jazz up your every day Peep into a culinary treat. Peep smores sounds genius if you ask me!

Drool.

Drool.

Last but not least, every year the Washington Post hosts an awesome Peeps diorama contest where people can reenact famous movies, current events, you name it — all using Easter’s most classic fluffy treat. Some of them are actually pretty impressive.

Deliciously hilarious.

Deliciously hilarious.

Happy early Easter everyone!

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Liebster Award — thanks, Alex!

My lovely friend Alex nominated me for a Liebster Award over at her awesome blog, Rockstar in Training (if you haven’t already – go check it out, it’s full of great posts on life, work and everything in between). While the award isn’t an “official” award – it’s a fun way to give a shout out to blogs you enjoy and give bloggers an opportunity to share more about themselves.

The way it works:liebster

1. Share 11 things about yourself

2. Answer the 11 questions given to you

3. Nominate five bloggers and ask them 11 questions of your own.  (Alex basically picked everyone I would have nominated… that’s what happens when you travel in the same circles!)

Since all five of my readers (not including my mom) are dying to know more about me, here are 11 fun tidbits to get to know me better:

1. I have a deathly fear of crabs and mayonnaise – not sure which one I am afraid of more.

2. One of my biggest pet peeves in the entire world is when people don’t use their turn signals. Oh, and slow walkers.

3. I have broken all of my toes. Twice. (Not to mention my nose and my leg, too.)

4. I am nearly blind in one eye and technically I’m not even supposed to be allowed to drive.

5. I am the pickiest eater you will ever meet. Until a few years ago, the most adventurous I would get was hotdogs and macaroni and cheese. Now I’m in love with trying new things — Chinese is my current obsession.

6. I watch Boy Meets World every single morning before work. Literally – every morning. I never miss it. I think I’ve seen the entire series at least four times now.

7. My first word as a baby was “ACDC” and my second word was “pancake.” Even before mama and dada. Clearly, I had my priorities straight.

8. I am a hardcore francophile. I love all things French and if I had it my way – I would move there for a year or two.

9. I used to play the cello. I was really, really bad at it.

10. I was once captain of my middle school tennis team – even if it was for a hot second. It’s the only sport I’ve ever played.

11. I love a strong martini, a good book and a freshly painted manicure.

Alex’s 11 questions:

1. If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

As cliche as it is, I have always wanted the ability to fly. I think it would be amazing to be able to go anywhere I want in the world whenever I want to.

2. What’s the toughest decision you had to make?

Whether or not to move to the D.C. area – away from all of my family, friends and the city I had grown to call my home. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but nothing worth it ever is. I think it’s helped me try to be better friend and recognize what great people I have in my life. It’s easy to forget that when you see them all the time.

3. Do you believe in God? Why or why not?

Oh boy. Long story short — no, not quite. Religion is something I’ve struggled with my entire life and its something that makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I’d like to believe that there is something more out there, but what exactly that is – I’m still not sure. I hope one day I will believe in something.

4. What’s the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Sipping bottomless mimosas on a sun-bathed patio, enjoying a delicious brunch with great friends.

5. How old were you when you figured out what love was?

I thought I knew what love was in middle school – I dated the same guy on and off for three years and thought we were going to get married. Then I met Mike when I was only 16 and I have been head-over-heels in love with him ever since. Over the past seven years though I’ve learned a lot more about what goes into love and relationships and my perceptions of it have greatly matured.

6. Peanut butter or jelly?

Peanut butter. It makes everything taste better.

7. If you were forced to get a tattoo, what would you get?

I’ve always wanted a tattoo of part of an e.e. cummings poem — i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart). It’s an amazing poem that I think somehow manages to sum up my love for the most important people in my life.

8. Coke or Pepsi?

Neither — I hate dark colored sodas. I’m more of a gingerale and Fresca kind of gal.

9. Finish the sentence: My best friend is my best friend because…

they are there — for better and for worse.

10. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the last year?

You are the creator of your own happiness.

11. Why did you start your blog?

Because I love writing and sharing my experiences with others. It’s therapeutic and allows me to get out my frustrations, my fears, my hopes and my dreams and lets me know I’m not alone.

Thanks again for the nomination, Alex!

#19 & 20. go to a farmers’ market & buy a piece of local artwork

Mike and I’s seven year anniversary is tomorrow. Seven years is an incredibly long time – especially when you take into consideration that I’m only 23. I’ll write a mushy post about what those seven years have meant for me tomorrow, but for today I thought I’d share how Mike and I enjoyed an early celebration on Saturday, knocking a few more items off my 213 in 2013 list.

The weather in D.C. has been completely unpredictable lately, as demonstrated by the fact that on Saturday it was almost 60 degrees and sunny and today it’s freezing cold with a solid inch or two of snow on the ground. So, with the sunshine on our side, we hopped into the car and made our way towards Eastern Market in Capitol Hill, D.C.’s oldest farmers’ market full of fresh food, beautiful flowers and a diverse group of artists and crafters.

Beautiful day at Eastern Market.

Beautiful day at Eastern Market.

Growing up, my mom used to drag me to farmers’ markets all of the time. I only ever went for the oversized bags of kettle corn that would keep me occupied and happy while my mom spent hours traipsing through the tents, fawning over how beautiful the sunflowers were or how ripe the tomatoes looked. I didn’t realize how much I loved those early, sunny Saturday mornings  at the market with my mom until we moved away and stopped going.

I wish I could say that at a young age I appreciated all of the things that make a farmers market so wonderful. The old ladies sitting on their rocking chairs as they humbly gloat about how delicious their homemade jams are. Or the time-weathered man with a pipe hanging out of his mouth, carving something out of wood as he glances up at you out of one eye while you peruse his shop, admiring all of the beautiful woodwork that was created with his own two hands. Or the husband and wife who proudly grow their own overly ripe strawberries and herb garden filled with basil, mint, thyme and cilantro.

eastern market flowers

I may not have fully appreciated all of the hard work and gentle care of a person’s craft as a child, but I certainly do now. Mike and I spent a few hours walking along the tents, stopping in each one to admire everything from homemade soaps to handmade jewelry to stunning photography. I especially love being able to talk with each of the artists and learn more about their work and how they got started. Some have been doing this their entire lives while others have found their passion for the first time in decades.

Usually I tell them how beautiful their work is, flip over the price tag and cringe, wishing I could afford to support them in their endeavors. Being a local artist is a tough gig, but so is being a broke college student. Luckily, now that I have a job and a paycheck rolling in every two weeks, I can finally afford to fork over a “few” bucks for a one-of-a-kind original piece of art.

After stopping in a few tents, admiring paintings made from fabric and old books turned into purses and accessories, I stumbled upon a tent for a photographer, Joe Shymanski, who takes stunning photos of D.C. architecture. The photos captured the spirit and attitude of Washington, D.C. perfectly and I knew immediately I wanted to take home a print (or two) of his. So I flipped through the various photographs and stumbled upon two that immediately caught my eye and my heart. Somehow through the lens of his camera, he had seen D.C. as I do – history bathed in beauty; a city that continues to be reborn.

art print 2

art print 1

He wrapped up the prints, thanked me for my purchases and Mike and I grabbed a ridiculously good hot pretzel and strawberry lemonade before heading out to Chinatown for a delicious happy hour at La Tasca to enjoy some empanadas and blackberry mango sangria.

Nothing says "spring is here!" more than a pitcher of sangria.

Nothing says “spring is here!” more than a pitcher of sangria.

We finished the day sprawled out on an oversized blanket near the waterfront in Georgetown, soaking up the last few rays of sun curled up in each other’s arms. I couldn’t have dreamt up a better way to spend a Saturday, even if I tried. As Mike always likes to say… “it’s the little things, Niki.”

How lucky am I?

How lucky am I?

#18. get my hair done (professionally)

From a very young age I have had a love-hate relationship with my hair. Growing up, that teetered more on the side of hate as I received mullet after bowl cut after feathered hair fan gone wrong. My mom sticks to her guns by saying that those styles were “in” back in the day when I accuse her of wanting to make me look ugly as a child.

One of many bad haircuts (and bathing suits).

One of many bad haircuts (and bathing suits).

Over the years however, once I began gaining more freedom as I grew up, I began experimenting, mixing hair dyes and chopping off chunks like I was some sort of mad scientist. From covering my entire head in hydrogen peroxide to get the trashy trailer park look to dunking my head in a pot of Kool-Aid to get pink streaks, I did it all and then some. My hair was always “my thing” – it was what had people talking and people were continually impressed with the daring or crazy things I’d be willing to try. I was always the girl with the cool, edgy short haircuts, looking badass before Anne Hathaway even thought of chopping off her locks.

That all came to a sudden halt when my hairdresser went a little too far with the shears and I ended up looking like this:

This picture does not do this bad haircut the (in)justice it deserves.

This picture does not do this bad haircut the (in)justice it deserves.

After about a month (or seven) of crying about looking like Billy Idol (can’t you see the resemblance?), I swore off getting my hair done for nearly two years. Aside from a little trim I got done in Paris, I didn’t let anyone come near me with a pair of scissors.

Hair twins with Billy Idol.

Hair twins with Billy Idol.

And so I grew it. And grew it. And eventually my hacked tresses started to grow back. When I got engaged in December 2011, I made the decision to grow my hair out as much as I could for the wedding while I dreamed of beautiful, intricate updos with my long flowing hair. I had always imagined what I’d look like with long hair… giving me so many options that I had never had like a pony tail or a bun, god forbid.

As a girl that’s had short hair her entire life, I wasn’t prepared in the slightest for how absolutely annoying long hair can be. Especially since I’ve been told my hair is as thick as a horse’s main (thanks, I guess?) Long hair takes FOREVER to dry. It gets super tangled and knotty. It loses shape. It’s heavy. And even though I always wanted long hair so I could do amazing, fun things with it, once I had it – I didn’t know how to do anything other than just let it sit there, resting lethargically and sloppily on my shoulders.

So, after two years of shear fear and six months left until my big day, I decided what better time than now to finally head back to a salon and get my hair done – professionally. I found a Groupon for E. Harlan Scott Salon right in Downtown Silver Spring to get a full color, deep conditioning treatment and haircut for only $39. I jumped on it.

After waiting weeks for my appointment (the salon books up really fast and now I see why!), I was beyond excited to finally sit down in a salon chair. After talking about what I wanted (and what I didn’t… I’ve found that tends to be the most important), I made my way into the backroom for an incredibly relaxing shampoo. I closed my eyes and dozed off while my colorist ran her fingers through my hair and massaged my scalp. There is nothing better than the feeling of someone else washing your hair.

No matter how busy you get -- find time to relax and treat yourself.

No matter how busy you get — find time to relax and treat yourself.

After getting dried off, I sat down and she began applying color after simply telling her to just “pick one.” I’m a firm believer that people should place trust into those who have honed their craft – and she picked out the perfect color for me.

Mike was embarrassed by me for having an obvious photoshoot in the middle of the salon. Anything for the blog, I say!

Mike was embarrassed by me for having an obvious photoshoot in the middle of the salon. Anything for the blog, I say!

After more washing and shampooing, I received a deep conditioning treatment and spent the next forty minutes until a big plastic ball of heat as I read Glamour magazine and watched as other customers had their hair done.

After another hour or so of waiting, to my surprise, the owner of the salon, Eddie Harlan Scott himself, came over and told me he’d be cutting and styling my hair – a complete and total shock since I had purchased a Groupon and had never in a million years expected for the owner himself to take the time to do my hair. It was my lucky day because the man is a hair god. While he snipped away and I watched my hair regain its life, we talked about anything and everything, from my wedding, to his plans to open a salon school to the problems with my generation. All while he twirled me in my seat, making magic with his hands and his shears, going on about how my hair belongs in a Pantene commercial and making me blush with pride.

A stereotypical before and after shot. Good riddance split ends!

A stereotypical before and after shot. Good riddance split ends!

When he turned me around to look at myself, I was blown away. It’s amazing what a few snips and slaps of color can do to make you see yourself in a new light and help you regain the confidence you once had, but somehow lost in the shuffle. It’s not that haircuts and dye jobs are what should make you feel beautiful – as that should certainly come from a place within. What’s important is taking the time to pamper yourself and remember that you’re always worth the extra time and attention. No matter how busy you may be – always make time for you.

#17. go skiing

I hate the cold. I’m not a fan of snow. And I particularly dislike things that involve any sort of athletic skill. This is why everyone who knows me thought I was absolutely bonkers when I told them I was putting skiing on my 213 in 2013 list.

“You’ll hate it,” they said.

“HA. Good luck with that,” scoffed another.

Despite the countless warnings I received, I woke up bright and early Saturday morning, layered in snow gear, ready for the 3-hour drive to the resort in Wintergreen, VA. Katie and Kevin, our friends from PA, had already made a three-hour drive the night before to join us for a day on the slopes.

It began snowing on our way to the resort -- despite gray skies, the scenery was beautiful.

It began snowing on our way to the resort — despite gray skies, the scenery was beautiful.

The car ride was cramped and long, but a Wawa pit stop helped relieved our sore legs and empty stomachs. While everyone else loaded up on Sizzlies, I grabbed myself a hard cider and some pita chips – clearly the breakfast of a skiing champion. As we got closer to the resort, we began climbing higher and higher up the picturesque mountain, full of babbling brooks, wooden cabins and rows upon rows of trees.

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

After we found parking and loaded out of the car, we made our way over to the Living Social room where we checked in. The next stop was the rental check-out where we got our boots and skis. This was when I had a feeling I might not like skiing as much as I had hoped. After trying on around four pairs of ski boots, all of them crushing my feet and suffocating my calves, I realized it was highly unlikely I’d find a pair that were comfortable and didn’t make me want to throw myself off a mountain. I stopped my bitching, tried to ignore the incessant throbbing of my lower body and shuffled my way outside.

I grabbed my poles, learned how to snap on my skis and I was eager to take off on my first run. I’m not sure why, but in my head I envisioned myself being a natural – gliding down the slopes gracefully like an Olympian. Instead, I strapped on my skis and before I even tried to move, I wiped out and crashed into Kevin who desperately attempted to catch me and what little dignity I had left as small children whipped by us. Katie, the patient instructor she was, explained the difference between french fry and pizza positions to teach me how to go and stop.

Eager beavers ready to hit the slopes.

Eager beavers ready to hit the slopes.

But despite Kevin’s attempts to catch me, Katie’s efforts to teach me and Mike’s words of encouragement – all of it was futile as I went soaring down the hill, pizza-ing as hard as I could before I completely wiped out, face first with both skis and poles flying off and crashing down upon me. Unable to pick myself up, I immediately felt embarrassed, bruised and defeated. I started grumbling that I was done as I strapped my skis back on and attempted another go at it.

The pattern ensued for the next thirty minutes. I’d muster up some courage, shake out the piles of snow that had gone down my pants, stifle my fears and shame and attempt another run only to wind up face first in another snow bank.

After what seemed like an eternity full of crashes even worse than the last, I finally made it to the bottom of the hill and conquered my next fear of getting on the ski lift. Before I knew it, Katie and I were up in the air, overlooking the snowy mountain and the pain convulsing through my entire body ceased for a few moments as I took in the sights around me. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was serene.

Until that is, the ski lift was approaching the jumping off point, in which I immediately panicked and as I attempted to quick get off, winded up crossing my skis (a big no-no) and completely wiped out right at the top of the lift. The operator had to stop everything as I was obstructing the way and checked to make sure I was alright. Besides another bruise on my knee and another blow to my ego, I was fine.

This is pre-Niki wiping out and hating life. Notice I'm still smiling.

This is pre-Niki wiping out and hating life. Notice I’m still smiling.

I wanted to quit. I wanted to take off the cramped boots, clumsy skis and head over to the bar for a cocktail or ten.

I decided to take a break while Katie and Mike took another try on the slopes. I perched myself on an oversized rock right next to the lift drop-off and I watched in amusement as people would crash and tumble as their turn came to jump off. However, one little girl made quite an impact on me. Standing no more than 4 feet tall, with crazy, wild blond curls framing her chubby, red cheeks, she bravely jumped off the lift and fell down right in front of my feet.

“I’m sorry!” she said as she slowly picked herself back up.

“It’s okay,” I responded with a laugh.

“Why are you sitting here all alone on this rock?” she asked.

“Well, I’m not very good at this. I keep falling down,” I said, feeling silly.

“So! You fall down, you get back up!” she exclaimed and before I could even say anything she was already on her way down the hill.

How fitting, I thought. And how wise beyond her years she is, without even knowing it.

I knew I owed it to myself (and my friends) to try again. It was too early to throw in the towel.

We went over to the bunny hill, full of parents teaching their toddlers how to ski. Yes, that’s right… I said toddlers. Toddlers, who I might add, were really, really good and had clearly mastered the art of the french fry and pizza way better than I had.

Katie and I posing for pictures on the ski lift... right before I wiped out.

Katie and I posing for pictures on the ski lift… right before I fell off face first.

We agreed to try going down the hill in increments. Mike went first and after a nice, juicy wipeout, he picked himself up and before I knew it, he was over the hill and out of sight. I went next and wiped out not too far onto the hill in an attempt to dodge a tiny blonde girl less than half my size. I could hear Katie shouting “It’s okay Niki! You’re doing great!”

She was clearly being nice as I was doing terrible. But I got back up anyways and took a deep breath. “Come on, Niki. You can do this,” I thought.

Before I knew it I was zooming down the hill, dodging little people to my left and my right, and I quickly started to panic as I continued to pick up speed without the ability to stop. I began screaming at the top of my lungs, “I’M PIZZA-ING, I’M PIZZA-ING” in the hopes that would somehow slow me down and not result in me finding myself buried in another snow bank. A gentleman off to the side yelled “PIZZA HARDER” as I zoomed past him.

We are clearly a couple head over heels in love.

We are clearly a couple head over heels in love.

At the bottom of the hill I saw Mike standing there, waiting for me. I dug the insides of my skis into the snow, poles waiving in the air with a look of sheer panic across my face. Mike started to yell “You’re doing it baby! You’re doing it!” and before I knew it, I began slowing down until I eventually stopped right in front of him. On both of my feet. It was incredible. I was so proud of myself and happy that I hadn’t given up after my first run like I had so badly wanted to.

We took a break, guzzled down some hot chocolate and made our way out to the slopes again. My confidence was up from my last run so I decided I could handle going down a slightly bigger hill, which later turned out to be a big mistake as I practically fell the entire way down.

We called it quits after a few hours and loaded back into the car, faces red, hands cold and bodies sore. I can probably say I’ll never be going skiing again anytime soon, but I can say that it made for an experience I will never forget.

Above all else, I’m proud that I continued to pick myself back up, despite how many times I fell and how badly I wanted to give up. I hope that my blonde, curly-haired friend would be proud of me too.

Mike and I enjoying the beautiful view.

Mike and I enjoying the beautiful view.